DUBAI // Ana Ivanovic is confident she can compete against the WTA Tour's new generation of upcoming stars and remain in contention for grand slam honours.
The 2008 French Open champion, who climbed to the top of the women's rankings that year, is trying to resurrect her career after slipping to world No 64 in 2010.
She has climbed her way back to No 18 and reached the last-16 at the Australian Open earlier this year before losing to Petra Kvitova, the then world No 2.
That is the furthest Ivanovic, 24, has gone at a grand slam since winning the Roland Garros crown in 2008, but the Serbian believes she can do better despite the emergence of new and younger players like Kvitova, Victoria Azarenka, the reigning world No 1 and Australian Open champion, and Caroline Wozniacki.
"I really believe that I can get back to the top and that I can be in the mix to win grand slams then," Ivanovic said. "That's why I'm here, that's why I'm working hard. If that wasn't going to happen or if I didn't have a feeling that can happen, I wouldn't be here."
Ivanovic gave evidence of returning confidence with a straight sets romp over Maria Kirilenko at the Dubai Tennis Championships on Wednesday. Her 6-2, 7-6 win follows an impressive 6-1, 7-5 win over Francesca Schiavone, the 2010 French Open champion, in the first round.
The appointment of Nigel Sears, the former head of women's tennis at the Lawn Tennis Association of Britain, as her coach in July last year has played a big part in turning Ivanovic's flagging fortunes around and she praised his calming influence.
"I think he understands me as a player and a person," Ivanovic said. "I think that's a big part of it. He's also very calm throughout my matches. I'm like, 'Show a little bit more emotion'.
"But I think it's really good because I'm perfectionist and I try to do everything right and sometimes get too excited. He tries to keep it a little bit calm, even though I know it's not easy sometimes."